Dear Carol, Mary Ann and all of our gardening friends,
This is our last letter for the season, and it’s a good thing because I don’t have much to report. The chickens jumped up in the garden and ate my cantaloupe, so today is cleanup day in the potager. (Oh dear, that rhymed. I apologize.) I’ll pull up all the tomato vines, the okra and other summer vegetables while leaving annual herbs, like basil, until frost for the pollinators.
Vegetable gardening is funny in Oklahoma because you never know what you’ll get. I had so many tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, peppers and potatoes, summer living was sweet. I thought for sure I’d also be awash in melons, but because they didn’t flower until the heat hit, I only had a few and didn’t get to eat those. Silly chickens.
From the look of these vines covering the walks, I should have a bumper sweet potato crop. I’ve been reading This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader, by Joan Dye Gussow, and she has a lot of tips about putting up foods like sweet potatoes. I bought the book after reading, Anne Raver’s New York Times article about Gussow’s garden being swept away again by floods. Gussow is now 81, but she still works in the garden everyday, and she lives off what she grows. She also has a new book, Growing, Older: A Chronicle of Death, Life, and Vegetables coming out in November. She is such a good writer I’ve pre-ordered it. Another great garden writer who is writing about growing older in the garden is Sydney Eddison. I’m thinking about buying Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older. Both women have a lyrical quality to their writing which always brings me back for more.
I find I’m more and more interested in sustainability, but with three kids, we would all need to work very hard, and I would need to home school them or have the bus pick them up. Because I don’t trust my local schools, I send my children pretty far from home. Every action we take makes for a series of reactions, some of which we can’t predict. For my children, living out in the country makes them very lonely sometimes, especially my son.
As for the garden, I’ve got spinach, lettuce, kale, swiss chard and radish seeds which I will plant today. I was sidetracked by a trip to Bustani Plant Farm with Helen Weis on Friday. We had a blast touring the gardens and buying plants for fall. These are perennials which will overwinter and be stronger than ever next year. By working hard the last couple of days, I planted all of them but four. I’ll finish today or tomorrow. One thing is certain they must be planted before Friday when I leave for Dallas to attend the Garden Writers Association annual symposium. I’m looking forward to the trip, but I’m so not ready.
It’s time to mulch everything with shredded leaves again. The worms will work throughout fall and winter to pull that organic matter down into the soil. I will top off the leaves with Jemasco shredded pine bark for an added layer of protection.
What are you doing to create a fall garden this year, or to put your gardens to bed?